Saturday, January 05, 2013

News from the World of Assisted Reproduction reports that in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ICSI birth defects may be decreasing. They cite a Western Australia study of more than 200,000 births that included nearly 2,000 IVF and ICSI babies. Researchers found the following from fertility clinics:

From 1994–1998, nearly 11% of babies had a birth defect diagnosed by age 6
From 1998–2002, only about 7.5% had a birth defect diagnosed by age 6

The lead author attributes the changes to improved laboratory practices, wiser use of meds for ovarian stimulation, and fewer embryos transferred.

The study included some pregnancies terminated because of birth defects. Major birth defects were listed as cleft lip, hip dysplasia, and malformations of the heart, abdominal wall and genitals. These affected about 8% of singleton babies conceived through IVF and ICSI, compared to about 5% of babies conceived naturally.

What I’d like to know: Could the “improvement” be due to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis in which embryos found to have genetic issues are destroyed before transfer?

Bioedge has also reported that a Danish donor passed on severe birth defects by fathering dozens of children through a clinic in Copenhagen. It was supposed to limit to twenty-five the number of children fathered by one door, but the donor had fathered at least forty-three kids via sperm distributed through fourteen clinics.

At least five offspring from this donor have been found to have a tumor-producing nerve disorder known as Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) or Von Recklinghausen's disease. Though the clinic was notified about four years ago, they did nothing to prevent further use of the donor’s sperm. Parents are considering legal action. And Danish health officials have imposed a new twelve-pregnancy per donor rule.  

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